Graduate studies at Western
Inquiry 50 (1):34 – 69 (2007)
|Abstract||As part of the widespread turn to narrative in contemporary philosophy, several commentators have recently attempted to sign Kierkegaard up for the narrative cause, most notably in John Davenport and Anthony Rudd's recent collection Kierkegaard After MacIntyre: Essays on Freedom, Narrative and Virtue. I argue that the aesthetic and ethical existence-spheres in Either/Or cannot adequately be distinguished in terms of the MacIntyre-inspired notion of 'narrative unity'. Judge William's argument for the ethical life contains far more in the way of substantive normative content than can be encapsulated by the idea of 'narrative unity', and the related idea that narratives confer intelligibility will not enable us to distinguish Kierkegaardian aesthetes from Kierkegaardian ethicists. 'MacIntyrean Kierkegaardians' also take insufficient notice of further problems with MacIntyre's talk of 'narrative unity', such as his failure to distinguish between literary narratives and the 'enacted dramatic narratives' of which he claims our lives consist; the lack of clarity in the idea of a 'whole life'; and the threat of self-deception. Finally, against the connections that have been drawn between Kierkegaardian choice and Harry Frankfurt's work on volitional identification, I show something of the dangers involved in putting too much stress on unity and wholeheartedness.|
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